Hello, hot hot summer! Yesterday Ginger at GReads! shared what’s in her beach bag. Today we’re doing the same. Quite frankly, we’re longing for days at the beach to escape work and day-to-day life busyness. Oh, to smell like sunscreen while spending a long day with sand collecting between your toes…
I’m a terrible packer. Terrible. I over pack and bring a million and a half things just because I *might* need them. I’m pretty pleased with how practical my hypothetical beach bag appears to be packed. (And yes, you do see two beach bags. One for beach-y things, one for books.)
- Paradise Beach Bag – Gotta love a good summertime tote to pack along all the sunscreen and snacks. (I’m practically clear – I’m so pale. The sunscreen is an absolute given.)
- Crossing Sandals — Sand in the summer = HOT. Scorching hot. Cute sandals are a necessity when strolling along the beach.
- Pastel Sunglasses — Must protect the eyes from UVA/UVB rays.
- Color Block Beach Towel – I own a couple of this exact towel from Target. I love the gradient of colors.
- Striped Backpack — So here’s the bag I would stuff FULL OF BOOKS. Because somehow I convince myself I’ll have time to read 33 books in one day. (That’s possible, right?)
- Books, Books, Books (duh!) — I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella and Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson are two books I have to read this summer. I just purchased Sophie’s book this past week (!!) and I’ve had Morgan’s glaring at me from my bookshelf. Cannot wait for some time to devour these.
- Chic Hat — I’m not usually much of a hat girl, but there’s something about going to the beach that makes me feel sassy when I wear an awesome hat. And it protects my head from getting sunburned. Nothing hurts worse than a sunburn on your scalp!
When my husband and I lived 15 minutes from the beach last year, we used to jump in the car after I commuted home in our work clothes and head over to eat dinner on the sand. It was always surprising how crowded the beach was at that time, but still, a nice way to end the day after a bustling twelve hours in the city. Now that we’ve moved, it’s not possible for us to do this anymore so my beach bag is dedicated to this fun tradition. (That we may be able to revive on weekends, I hope.)
1. kate spade picnic basket: Stylish and functional!
2. pose garden sandal: Cute sandals that are so work appropriate. (Wouldn’t they look great with a pencil skirt?)
3. fujifilm instax MINI: One of my favorite Christmas presents that I would love to bring to the beach and capture the sun going down, the surf, or even just some candids of the husband and I.
4. goldfish pizza flavored: A childhood tradition that I’ve kept going in my grown-up life. I always remember my mom and dad throwing Goldfish in our beach bags during the summer and I can’t eat the Pizza ones without thinking of those fun times. I’m always sure to throw some in our beach bag.
So what about the books? I think I’m still in wedding mode after this weekend because I was thinking of something “old” (totally classic, a major re-read) and something new to recommend as fantastic beach read options.
something “old”: From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas | A crazy, unexpected road trip between the most popular guy at school and a stick-in-the-mud super responsible gal to Mexico. I read this on my cruise last June and I have so many fond memories of reading it. Must take a second spin with it soon!
: Dangerous Girls
by Abigail Haas | This mature young adult thriller comes out July 16 (but my review is up on Thursday) and was seriously so difficult to put down. (You might get a pretty spectacular tan if you bring this one to the beach because I guarantee you will not want to move.) It’s about a group of friends who spend their senior year of spring break in Aruba where one of their friends ends up murdered and another charged for the crime. So so so creepy good.
What is a must in your beach bag? Most importantly, what books are you bringing to the beach?!
Don’t forget to check out Fiction Folio on Thursday for Tara’s beach bag!
Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: June 14, 2011
Publisher: Random House
Target audience: Mature YA/adult
Keywords: friendship, marriage, secrets, traveling pants
Format read: Paperback I bought.
Summary: A return to the friendship of Lena, Carmen, Tibby, and Bridget — four girls connected by their long history together and also a pair of pants that seemed to magically fit all of them for a few summers in a row. So what has happened now that all of them have become true grown ups?
I bought this book on a whim this past week because I was looking for some inspiration for writing a matron of honor speech. While I didn’t use any quotes from the book like I was originally planning to, it felt so fitting to spend some free time revisiting four friendships that really shaped my childhood as I prepped for the wedding of my best friend — a gal I’ve known since I was 5 years old. (Ironically my best friend has my original copy from when I lent it to her.)
I, first, read Sisterhood Everlasting when it was initially released in 2011. I remember I was totally frozen in place on my couch in our old house reading and reading until I got through the whole thing in one night. I just had to see how it ended. I’m happy to say that book was just as addicting the second time around, even if it is surprisingly sad.
Even though the girls (who I thought of as the next-gen Baby-Sitters Club) went through a fair share of drama through high school and college, I always thought the book boasted about the positivity of female friendships. So to experience such a change in Sisterhood Everlasting where the girls are all living in separate places, not getting together very frequently, Tibby totally MIA, and dating people the others don’t approve of — as a dedicated fan of the series, you feel genuinely gutted.
“Growing up is hard on friendships,” Carmen says in the very beginning.
I know with too much experience how true this statement can be but part of me was hoping for the happily ever scenario for these four. But Brashares has the opportunity to showcase some top notch writing because of this choice — the grown up thoughts (Is this who I really want to marry? Am I really happy in this job? Why do things not feel like they used to?), the small nods to the past, and even the gorgeous imagery (I need to get to Greece) — that she wasn’t always able to use when writing for a younger audience. Like the girls, her writing most definitely matured.
With Carmen an actress in NYC, Lena teaching in Rhode Island, Bee unable to settle down in California, and Tibby off in Australia — the girls are unable to find the common ground they once had with each other (even after the pants went missing). When Tibby surprises them with a reunion in Greece, the three feel this is what they really needed until they arrive in Greece and things totally spiral out of control. When the girls go their separate ways once again, it feels like all hope is lost until each of them embark on their own journey undoubtably leading them to answer the same question: can they regain what they had and move forward together?
While I didn’t always agree with Brashares’ characterizations (I don’t think Carmen could ever be a size zero or tone down her Latina pride; Lena just seemed way TOO sad and isolated), I do think she did well when it came to capturing the spirits of these characters we love and showing just how much time can change us — to the point where we might not even recognize ourselves. It’s tough to see on the page, but almost necessary, because there are so many factors that come into play when it comes to friendships, too many distractions, and at some point, friendship takes a little bit more of a push than it has to when you were kids hanging out in the same neighborhood every day.
Whether you remember reading the Sisterhood series way back when or you are looking for a book about female friendships that run deep, Sisterhood Everlasting provides a roller coaster of heartbreaking, sweet, and honest moments as so many realizations are made. For me, it was so nice to spend 300 more pages reuniting with some of my favorite girls with the added reassurance that fighting for friendships is so important.
Add to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon
Skinny Bitch in Love by Kim Barnouin ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Gallery Books (Simon and Schuster)
Target audience: Adult fiction
Keywords: cooking, vegan chef, cooking class, love/hate relationship
Format read: ARC paperback from Small Girls PR. (Thank you!)
Summary: When Clementine is fired from her awesome job at a vegan restaurant because someone botched up her big moment, she takes her future in her own hands and decides to offer cooking classes and personal chef services. Not only do the classes give her more time with her best friend and roommate, Sara, but she has interested “students” who become friends and the attention of the hot guy Zach, opening a MEAT restaurant next door to her apartment in her own dream eatery space. Will she make enough money to open her own place? Can she really trust Zach?
Being a “skinny bitch” is all about cutting the crap out of your life and Clem is TRYING to do this but it seems like drama after drama keeps finding its way to her.
She’s lost her job, she’s still not over her ex-boyfriend, and her checking account is about one rent check away from being totally cleaned out. But this girl gets her act together. She’s motivated! With the encouragement of her best friend, Sara, and other close friends, she decides to be her own boss: starting with a vegan cooking class and providing personal chef services. Right around this time, her dream spot for a restaurant is taken over by a NON-VEGAN restaurant! The horror! (It’s called The Silver Steer.) Of course, Zach, the guy opening the business, is super hot and charming and Clem can’t stop thinking about him.
Their “relationship” is anything but easy; I really had no idea if Zach was a good guy or not. I mean, sure, he had nice eyes and was surprisingly generous and wonderful. But then he would do something totally infuriating and, like Clem, I wanted to strangle him and kiss him at the same time. So Zach could be totally pig-headed sometimes while Clem obsessed a bit too much about him being a carnivore. Basically, they had a perfectly fiery love-hate relationship.
So not only is there a great mix of romance and friendship in this book but Clem’s kitchen masterpieces were so mouth-watering, I think my stomach was growling throughout the entire read. (True story: on my lunch break, I was totally craving a tropical fruit scone — where can you buy those?!) I really liked watching this young woman work to get her career revved up. Even when she hit a few roadblocks along the way (would she ever catch a break?), she shook it off, moved forward, and was determined to she find success on her own terms.
I had a total blast reading Skinny Bitch in Love. Zach and Clem’s chemistry, her parent’s farm, trendy L.A. scenes, and Sara’s own journey to cut the crap out of her life made this such a fast-paced read for me. Plus I learned a little bit about the vegan lifestyle! I must also give a nod to Clem’s vegan cooking class who provided some hysterical (and totally nosey) commentary when it came to Clem’s love life. Such a great touch.
I want to tell you that Skinny Bitch in Love is the perfect companion for your summer adventures, but I know you could enjoy this one all year round.
Goodreads | Buy on Amazon
When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney (twitter | website)
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: loss of a parent, grief, Tokyo, relationships that don’t end well
Format read: ARC received from the publisher via NetGalley. (Thank you!)
Other Books Read by the Author: The Mockingbirds (a joint review)
Summary: Just a few short years after the loss of his father, Danny’s mom dies a few weeks shy of his high school graduation from the cancer she’s been battling. Danny is lonely and seeking answers; he goes to Tokyo to learn more about his mom’s last few months, treatments, and to seek peace after his unexplained break-up from his girlfriend, Holland.
Very, very thankfully I haven’t had to work through a parental loss. I can’t imagine what Danny must have been feeling when at 18, he finds himself without both parents. His father passed away after a freak accident in Japan a few years prior. Present day he’s reeling from the loss of his mother who passed away after a long battle with cancer, one month shy of his high school graduation. Further complicating his family dynamic, he and his (adopted, older) sister aren’t necessarily on good terms. Understandably, Danny is feeling very alone and lost.
He would turn to his best friend Holland for help and a listening ear, but Danny started dating her last year and then she completely cut off communication shortly after leaving for college. Even though she’s back home for the summer, things just aren’t the same. Danny and Holland can easily slip back into their witty banter, but Danny feels guarded because he’s still deeply in love with Holland. Without answers and a huge helping of honesty, he just can’t let things go back to the way they were.
To clear his mind, let go of Holland, and seek answers to burning questions he’s got about his mom’s passing, Danny takes off for Tokyo. His parents owned a house there and they frequently visited as a family. Danny’s mom visited Tokyo often throughout her last months for treatment and he feels speaking to her doctor will give him peace about why she couldn’t make it one more month to see him walk across the stage. He also must decide what to do with their family condo now that he’s inherited it. Kana, daughter of their property’s landlord, becomes his tour guide as he follows in his mother’s last footsteps.
When You Were Here was full of absolutely all of my favorite things — a deep, emotional story, shocking twists and turns that left me needing to collect my thoughts, and a journey to a new place that made me want to catch the first flight to Tokyo. Whitney’s writing was as beautiful as ever, and Danny’s voice was so spot on. He was full of humor that he used to protect himself from feeling all the pain he was going through. He was confused and in need of someone to protect him from more bad things happening.
There’s a major, major plot twist that made me gasp when I read through the scene. HOLY CRAP! — I was so stunned and silenced. I needed time to walk away and think about how I felt. Guys, that doesn’t happen often. Whitney made me feel like Danny’s life was real and I was being asked to lend a helping hand or offer advice. Hopefully you’ll feel the same protectiveness over Danny that I did; after I closed the book, I felt this spoke volumes for Whitney’s writing — she has an uncanny ability to make me want to take care of all her characters. (I felt the same way when I read The Mockingbirds.)
Goodreads | Amazon | Why I Want to Visit Tokyo Now | Nail Polish Selections for the WYWH Cover
BONUS: Daisy Whitney has another book coming out this fall, Starry Nights.
Don’t forget to add it to your TBR shelf on Goodreads!
Hi, friends! Today we are sharing one of the books we both adored this year: Sean Griswold’s Head by Lindsey Leavitt. Main character Payton does not react well when she accidentally finds out her dad has MS. She stops talking to her parents, and when the school counselor gets involved she asks Payton to choose a focus object. Enter Sean Griswold’s head — a staple in her school life since forever.
So why is this title so underrated? It has a supportive family, a sweet love interest, and a great best friendship. Seriously — the two of us have been secretly crushing on Sean Griswold since we “met” him and decided to feature unique and romantic summer dates inspired by his relationship with Payton.
A bike ride.
It turns out that after years of staring at Sean Griswold’s head… Payton doesn’t actually know anything about him. Turns out he is majorly into bike riding, and one of their first hang outs includes this very activity. I know, I know… it doesn’t seem super romantic but it’s DIFFERENT and totally Sean sharing one of his passions with Payton.
You might make a total fool out of yourself in front of the other person, but you know what — it’s fun to let your guard down and do something totally out of the ordinary. Plus a bike ride could include a trip to the park, and a picnic and stargazing. This sounds pretty awesome to us!
Before Payton finds out that her dad has MS, basketball is HER sport. This doesn’t exactly turn out to be a romantic moment in the books but the idea of friendly competition with your main squeeze? So cute. You are outside, the weather is gorgeous, and you are hoping your partner just doesn’t LET you win because you want it to happen fair and square.
Plus, it’s a great excuse to get a little bit closer.
(Estelle note: I remember playing basketball with the boys in middle school and it was the best way to flirt. Really.)
We know our friend Novel Sounds is going to appreciate this one. Sure, it’s simple and not the most groundbreaking idea but there’s nothing like sharing ice cream on a warm summer’s day. Maybe after a bike ride or that neck-and-neck basketball game? Ice cream is pretty perfect in any situation and we recommend you have as much as possible with that special one. (We can’t give away when and why this happens in the book but we’ll put it this way: Payton challenges herself many times in this book and everyone needs a sweet reward.)
We hope you and your significant other can try out a few of these date ideas inspired by Sean Griswold’s Head. And definitely, definitely pick up this book by Lindsey Leavitt. The sweet romance is oh-so-perfect for these long summer days. Enjoy!
Add Sean Griswold’s Head on Goodreads
Purchase on Amazon
Read Magan’s Review
For more Sweet Summertime Reads, check out:
Ginger’s post about Ingredients for a Summer Romance or enter to win a copy of Along for the Ride
Check out Tara’s summer-y post at Fiction Folio on Thursday!